IN a paper, the National Chicken Council (NCC) and U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. (USPoultry) have refuted claims that poultry processing lines are run too fast and, therefore, are unsafe for poultry processing plant workers.
The claims were made by the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice and Southern Poverty Law Center in a report titled "Unsafe at These Speeds," which focused on 2010 data from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to argue that the illness and injury rate for plant workers is 5.9% of the workforce, compared with 3.5% for all workers in the private sector.
However, NCC and USPoultry said these data need to be considered from a better perspective.
First, they said "a more accurate comparison" would be to compare poultry workers to all manufacturing workers. The illness and injury rate in 2011 was 4.4% for all manufacturing workers versus 5.8% for poultry workers.
Second, NCC and USPoultry said it's "noteworthy" to compare poultry workers' rate with other industries and professions. In 2011, they pointed out, the illness and injury rate was 7.9% for passenger airline workers, 7.5% for automobile manufacturing workers, 5.2% for office furniture manufacturing workers and 5.7% for local and state government workers.
The poultry industry's rate is in line with many other manufacturing sectors, they said.
NCC and USPoultry noted that poultry processing plants have reduced illnesses and injuries 74.5% since 1994.
The two organizations also refuted claims the report made about a number of other issues, including line speeds, unionization, workers' compensation, anaerobic manure lagoons and the proposal to modernize poultry inspection.
The complete paper is available at www.ncc.org and www.uspoultry.org.